Ex-Finance Minister Edward Scicluna “cannot remember” cabinet discussing a controversial government guarantee given to state-owned Azerbaijan company Socar in connection with the Electrogas project.
The Nationalist Party has said the “secretive” deal orchestrated by former minister Konrad Mizzi meant that all the Electrogas project’s risks were transferred to the taxpayer while others reaped the profits.
Questioned about the Socar agreement during a public accounts committee hearing, Scicluna said he was not personally informed about the agreement, nor can he remember it being discussed in cabinet.
Scicluna said that he “would not exclude” that his then permanent secretary Alfred Camilleri may have known about it.
The former finance minister said he was not personally involved in the Electrogas deal, although there was an agreement at government level that the power station project was an important one.
Scicluna said he was however involved in the €360 million government guarantee needed for Electrogas to obtain financing for the project.
The project has been mired in corruption claims, even resulting in a US travel ban for Mizzi and ex-OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri due to “significant corruption” linked to the power station deal.
Yorgen Fenech, the project's former lead director, was arrested and charged in 2019 in connection with the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. He denies the charges.
PN members on the committee last week asked police commissioner Angelo Gafà to update them on any investigations into the Electrogas deal.
A report by the Auditor General found there were “multiple instances of non-compliance” with the Electrogas bid when compared to the tender requirements.
Last month, Mizzi refused to say whether he had recommended that Panama Papers accountant Brian Tonna sit on one of the selection committees that chose Electrogas as the winning bidders.
Former Enemalta CEO Louis Giordimaina told the public accounts committee earlier this year that "Mizzi's ministry" had wanted to be involved in the selection process.
Tonna’s advisory firm Nexia BT set up secret Panama companies for both Mizzi and Schembri.
A leaked Nexia BT e-mail suggested that the companies would be financed by 17 Black, another secretive offshore structure owned by Fenech.